The Government of Guyana has pledged its support to the University of Guyana (UG) as it seeks to resolve a stalled agreement over the entry of Guyanese law students into the Hugh Wooding Law School.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams told the Government Information Agency (GINA), that the government has “an abiding interest in the welfare, well-being of our law students” and will do all it can to assist in bringing about a resolution on the matter.
The UG and the Hugh Wooding Law School are in negotiations for a new agreement for local law graduates. The new agreement seeks the automatic entry of 25 Guyanese along with an additional 10 non-Guyanese Bachelor of Law (LLB) graduates.
AG Williams told GINA that while government is not a party to the negotiations, UG has reached out to government for assistance. “We have been requested to assist in the kind of holding operation so as to give the University of Guyana the space to deal with these negotiations,” AG Williams said.
The original automatic entry arrangement came to an end in 2013 which only made provisions for Guyanese.
In the past, students from Jamaica, Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago would have completed only part 1 of the local LLB in the respective territories before heading to UWI’s Cave Hill campus in Barbados to complete parts two and three.
This process saw graduates attaining a UWI, LLB degree which gave them automatic entry into the Hugh Wooding Law School in the twin-island Republic. This practice no longer exists as each territory offers the full degree programme.
Meanwhile, the AG said the resolution of “the issue of the Council of Legal Education” will be addressed in Parliament this evening.
The former PPP-C government had stopped financial contributions to the Council of Legal Education (CLE).
Since the establishment of the CLE, member countries should have contributed to the upkeep of the Hugh Wooding Law School however, over the years many countries either did not meet their contribution in full, or not at all.
These contributions provided financial relief to law students. However, AG Williams noted that the previous administration’s failure to honour this obligation has left law students “to fend for themselves since 2002.”
AG Williams said while government has been assisting as much as it can, “We can’t at this time support any kind of scholarships for law students.” The AG said this is mainly because of the “humungous debt that we have inherited” from the previous administration.
The government is also exploring the establishment of a local law school, “built by a public – private partnership arrangement”, as part of alleviating the “hardship on the students.”
Guyana was granted permission by the CLE to establish a law school.